The Broken Heart of God

The Broken Heart of God

Matthew 23:37-29

“How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.”


            The imagery of a hen gathering her chicks under her wings is used in the Old Testament of a troubled individual seeking the shelter of God (see Psalms 57:1, 63:7, 91:4; Ruth 2:12). For the Psalmist, the illustration serves to present God as one who provides security for those who seek his comfort, protection, and care.  It speaks of a God who offers to provide a refuge and place of safety for those who are distressed and in fear.

After a stern rebuke of the religious leaders, Jesus makes his last public statement to the Jews.  From this point forward, he will turn his attention to his disciples.  Thus his words are heartbreaking for it reveals his heart. In his final statement, he expresses his profound sorrow and compassion for the people. From the beginning of the formation of the nation of Israel, God has demonstrated his grace and faithfulness by caring for the people. What is remarkable in his lament is that these are not the words offered to those in deep distress and seeking God’s divine protection and care. Instead, these words are stated to a people who have entirely rejected Christ’s offer of grace and, in a few days, will be demanding his execution. 

We see the incredible picture of God’s grace and compassion in these words. God is not indifferent, remaining in heaven, merely responding to those who desperately cry out to him.  It displays a picture of God’s presence and engagement in our lives.  In Exodus 3:7-8, God states, “I have surely seen the affliction of My I have come down to deliver them.”  This speaks of God’s personal involvement and care for his people.  When he sees people in need, he becomes personally involved.  He comes down to be present with his people.  This finds its ultimate expression in Christ.  In light of the devastation of sin, Christ became flesh and set up residency with us (John 1:14).  Christ cares deeply about us, even when we are in active rebellion against him.  Christ, who is God come in the flesh, longs to provide salvation and deliverance to us from our most profound anguish—the ravenous effects of sin.  He is not indifferent or untouched.  He is not uncaring.  He longs to provide protection and salvation.  He longs to act on our behalf.  In this cry, we see the broken heart of Christ who longs to deliver his people, but they steadfastly refuse him.

The tragedy is not that God doesn’t care but that we do not ask.  While he is ready and open to respond, we remain distant.  We reject the offer of salvation he gives.  Instead of fleeing to him in our times of trouble to rest in the security of his omnipotent arms, we remain dead set on going our own way. Like Israel, we remain blind to the tragedy that lies before us because of sin.  When given the offer of grace and forgiveness, we refuse blindly, thinking it is unneeded.  We remain confident in our own righteousness.  We foolishly believe that we can save ourselves.  Then, when disaster strikes, we blame God and accuse him of being uncaring or harsh.  When he threatens judgment, we have the folly of accusing him of being unjust.  We argue that a God who judges is a God who is uncaring.  Yet the whole time, as we march relentlessly to our impending doom, God offers grace and deliverance.  He longs to act on our behalf to deliver us from our present trouble and the greatest significant threat of all—the devastating judgment of sin.  There is only one thing we need to do—just ask! When we refuse, it breaks the heart of God.


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